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Two years on: How Covid-19 has affected the digital marketing landscape

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21st April 2022 in

It has been over two years since the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic. Two years since our lives turned upside down and “pivot” became the most overused word in the marketing vocabulary.    

Covid-19 has undoubtedly changed the way businesses operate and how consumers behave. As a result, marketers had to reevaluate their digital marketing strategies to stay relevant and profitable. But how has the pandemic affected digital marketing?

1. E-Commerce is more important than ever  

It is no surprise that e-commerce is more prevalent than ever, and it does not appear to be going anywhere fast. Monash Business School found that 84% of Australians have purchased something online in the last three months, and 37% make this a weekly occurrence. With lockdowns and the risk of contracting Covid-19 limiting the ability to visit physical retail stores, consumers turned to e-commerce to fulfil their wants and needs. Throughout the pandemic, both infrequent and new users converted to online shopping due to convenience and ease of use.    

Although people once again have the option to visit bricks and mortar stores, given the number of newly converted online shoppers, the rise of eCommerce is here to stay. During the pandemic, more companies entered the online retail space, which created more competition. What this means for marketers in a post-pandemic world is the need to review their online customer buyer journey to ensure a seamless experience and avoid low click-through rates, high bounce rates and cart abandonment. Marketers also need to ensure their strategy incorporates an eCommerce digital advertising strategy that determines what ads work best for their products, i.e., Google Shopping, banner ads or social ads.

2. The power of community  

An inability to travel over the last two years has seen an increase in the nostalgic feeling of neighbourhood communities. Google Searches for ‘local’ + ‘business(es)’ was up 80% last year, along with a surge in the use of Facebook community groups. With kilometer radius limits put in place in cities around the world, consumers got to know their local area and the businesses inside it more intimately. Buyers witnessed shop closures due to lockdowns and saw firsthand the effect these had on businesses within their area. As a result, consumers felt more responsible than ever to shop locally rather than spend with multi-million-dollar companies.    

This search trend is expected to decline as the world opens and people are eager to explore again, however a lasting community bond from the pandemic will remain for some. Forbes reports that consumers are still thinking and buying local post-pandemic as this thinking for many became entrenched. Attitudinal changes may be small, such as purchasing a loaf of bread from a local bakery rather than a supermarket, but they shouldn’t be dismissed. If brands haven’t already done so, they should consider incorporating a local SEO strategy into their marketing plan for bricks and mortar stores.

3. The rise of digital media 

Throughout the pandemic, we witnessed the continued rise of digital advertising spending. Kearny reports that spending on digital channels has now surpassed traditional media spending. As a result of being homebound for months, the popularity of binge-enabling video on demand (VOD) services increased, and consumers became wary of touching physical goods, turning to online publications rather than print. They also became impatient and wanted news and information on demand, and online sources could satisfy these cravings.  

As many businesses moved their media budget online during the pandemic, they’ve now learnt the direct impact on Return on Investment (ROI) digital advertising can have. Kearny predicts that by 2023, spending on digital advertising will make up for around 60% of all media spending. Businesses are still uncertain of what the future holds as they grasp the lasting repercussions of the pandemic. Therefore, they are spending cautiously, opting to put their money into something that can deliver tangible results, like digital. With a more digitally dependent nation in play, marketers should continue to monitor where their ideal customers are going for information and entertainment post-pandemic and update their media plans accordingly. It is, however, imperative for brands to remember the importance of long-term branding and not just look at short-term clicks and incorporating channels such as VOD can provide the perfect harmony between digital advertising and branding.

Whilst we cannot predict what the new normal will look like, we know that things will never return to how they were pre-pandemic. Consumer behaviours and attitudes have shifted beyond repair. They now expect more, crave convenience, and have an inherent desire to support local. 

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